Bury: EFL commissions independent review of regulations after club's demise

Bury scarf tied to the fence
Bury, founded in 1885, have twice won the FA Cup

The English Football League has announced a comprehensive review into the regulations and procedures concerning the financial sustainability of its member clubs.

The move comes after Bury were expelled from the EFL last week.

The independent review will be led by Jonathan Taylor QC.

Meanwhile, a group of MPs will hold a hearing into the role the EFL and Football Association play in safeguarding clubs.

Bury's 125-year membership of the EFL ended last week after a proposed takeover by C&N Sporting Risk collapsed.

Damian Collins MP, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, has also backed calls to place Bury in League Two next term.

Review to 'help understand what happened at Bury'

The EFL says the review will "consider the lessons to be learned" from Bury's recent financial difficulties and "seek to identify changes that help to ensure similar problems do not occur in the future".

Taylor is an expert on commercial and regulatory issues in sport, and is co-head of the sports group at law firm Bird & Bird. He is also leading a pre-existing review of the EFL's governance systems and procedures.

The review regarding financial sustainability will take place in two phases.

The first phase will look at the background to Bury's insolvency and will also consider the role of the EFL's regulations - including the application of the owners' and directors' test, the approach to insolvent clubs and the EFL's efforts to help secure a long-term future for Bury.

The second phase will focus on the effectiveness of the EFL's regulations and procedures in ensuring the financial sustainability of its member clubs.

Taylor will make recommendations on modifications to the EFL's articles of association, regulations and procedures, which will be considered by the EFL board and clubs.

Any changes approved by the clubs at the EFL's annual general meeting next year would then come into immediate effect.

Debbie Jevans, the executive chair of the EFL, said the review will "help everyone to understand what happened at Bury".

"The EFL recognises its responsibility to examine whether we can improve our regulations and procedures in this area," she added.

"We want to play our part in helping to ensure a successful and prosperous future for the EFL so our clubs can contribute to their communities for many years to come."

'Growing problem' within EFL

Collins, the MP for Folkestone and Hythe, said Bury's expulsion from the EFL "marks a failure of football governance".

Fellow League One club Bolton were saved from possible liquidation when they were taken over by Football Ventures (Whites) Limited last week.

"The decision to expel Bury is a tragedy for all who follow the team as well as the wider community that it serves," Collins said.

"The current owners and directors test is clearly not sufficient to protect the long-term interests of clubs and keep bad owners and directors out of the game.

"The Select Committee believes that the issues that have affected Bury reflect a wider and growing problem within the Football League."

Bury North MP James Frith said earlier this week that he plans to put forward a proposal to the EFL by 20 September in a bid to have the club reinstated to League Two in 2020-21.

Collins, who said the committee will hold hearings "in the autumn" relating to the crisis at Bury, has urged the EFL to consider "any realistic proposal that could support Bury's status as a football league club, including whether they could play next season in League Two, under new ownership".

Bury's expulsion means that three clubs, rather than four, will be relegated from League One this season and just one, instead of two, from League Two.

Timeline: Bury's EFL demise

  • 30 July: EFL suspends club's first game of the season asks them to prove financial viability
  • 9 Aug: Bury are given until 23:59 on 23 August to provide "clarity required" as third game is called off
  • 20 Aug: Sixth Shakers game suspended, while owner Steve Dale rejects offer to buy club
  • 23 Aug: Bury granted extension until 17:00 on 27 August in light of bid from C&N Sporting Risk
  • 27 Aug: EFL expel Bury after C&N Sporting Risk withdraws interest
  • 29 Aug: Bury claim EFL will not rescind expulsion, despite the club revealing a further £7m takeover bid
  • 30 Aug: Bury write to EFL as club "actively considers" legal action
  • 2 Sep: Bury North MP reveals plan to submit a proposal to the EFL by 20 September in a bid to have Bury reinstated to League Two in 2020-21